USC played to its defense and special teams the last time it went on the road, the approach preserving a 10-point victory over Washington.
USC Coach Lane Kiffin might not have the option of playing it safe Saturday at Arizona.
Wildcats quarterback Matt Scott, a fifth-year senior, has been running new Coach Rich Rodriguez’s spread offense with precision. He leads the Pac-12 Conference and is fourth nationally in total offense for a team that has averaged 549 yards and 39 points a game.
Last week, Scott passed for four touchdowns and ran for one in Arizona’s 52-17 victory over Washington.
So, after a record-setting performance in an easy victory against lowly Colorado, USC quarterback Matt Barkley could find himself in a shootout at Tucson.
Barkley has passed for a conference-leading 22 touchdowns.
Scott, who played at Corona Centennial High, is second with 17. He also has rushed for 265 yards and three touchdowns.
“He can beat you in both ways,” Kiffin said.
Barkley is accustomed to high-scoring games against the Wildcats.
Last season at the Coliseum, he passed for a school-record 468 yards and four touchdowns and also rushed for a score in a 48-41 victory.
The 6-foot-3, 196-pound Scott was a redshirt last season so he would have a chance to play regularly for the first time since 2009, when Nick Foles, a Michigan State transfer and future NFL draft pick, supplanted him as the starter before midseason.
Now, he’s looking forward to his chance against the Trojans.
“There are some things I think we can do on offense to keep them on their toes,’ he told reporters in Arizona on Monday. “We’ll push the tempo like we’ve been doing the past few games.”
In 1998, USC receivers coach Tee Martin set the NCAA record for completion percentage in a game by connecting on 23 of 24 passes (95.8%) in a Tennessee victory over South Carolina.
As Barkley kept completing passes against Colorado, Martin thought the record would fall.
“He only had one incompletion and he just kept going and going, so I was wondering, ‘How close is he to my record?’ ” Martin said. “Coach [Kiffin] said something on the headset and I go, ‘He may have it.’ But I didn’t know.”
Barkley’s 19-for-20 performance (95%) left him just shy of Martin’s record.
“If he had gotten it, I would have been happy for Matt,” Martin said. “He’s great. He deserved it.”
USC’s Nov. 3 game against Oregon at the Coliseum will kick off at 4 p.m. and will be televised by Fox. ... USC leads the series against Arizona, 28-7. The Trojans have won nine of the last 10. ... Arizona cornerback Jonathan McKnight, the brother of former USC tailback Joe McKnight, has three interceptions and returned one for a touchdown. ... The Trojans were off Monday. They resume practice Tuesday.